Posted by: mikeydude | November 26, 2009

Magdalen Restaurant London Bridge Review (7/10)

Consistency Consistency Consistency!!!

If there were ever a restaurant in London that has never let me down it must be Magdalen. I first came here on the recommendation of Times Food Critic Giles Coren I think it must be 2-3 years ago now. I loved its down-to-earth ambience, great service with knowledgeable waiting staff, as well as its high quality British cooking. Since then I had been back 2-3 times and each time I’ve always walked away pleased. It will never win stars… but who cares??? So in a night where I needed to rush back to my hotel in Croydon I needed a restaurant that served good food and conveniently located at a train station that would take me home quickly afterwards… perfect!

After another day of ego-deflating lectures that never fail to stun doctors into realising how little they know, I made my way to this old friend of mine and the wife was to meet me there. Once more I was greeted warmly by attentive waiting staff who were quick to offer me drinks and have me seated whilst I waited for my date. The restaurant was pretty full as expected for a Saturday night but the waiting staff appeared calm and controlled. Things hadn’t changed in that respect then…

When the Mrs finally arrived we browsed the menu together. Some pretty good options in the starter section and I wouldn’t have minded trying a few of them to be honest. The waiter told us there were 2 specials tonight; foie gras served with lentils, and langoustines (from Scotland might I add!). Foie Gras…. my weakness. Fine I might have had it a few weeks ago in Newport but that was a smidgen. Fine I might have had it in Paris but that seems like such a long time ago now… No… I could not resist I insisted on ordering it after quizzing the waiter on how it was cooked. A lobe of foie gras cooked in a water bath and then finished in the frying pan for the essential caramelised layer. Anyway here’s what we ordered.

Drinks: German Beer and freshly squeezed juice.

They don’t serve local beer so I opted for this german beer which I forget the name of. Nice and refreshing after a day’s hard work.


They’ve never made their own bread here, which is a shame. It still tasted fresh, but nothing special.

Starter #1: Foie Gras served with lentils

Check it out! This lobe of foie gras was a lot larger than I thought it would be. Sheesh normally restaurants only give you a smidgen! Anyway this was cooked to perfection. A beautiful caramelised outer layer unveiling that wonderful melt in mouth sensation that epitomises the glory of this French classic. Absolutely delicious, and served with green lentils just meant the flavour combinations of this dish could not go wrong. Not overwhelming cooking by any means, but a classic dish served the way it should be. Now believe it or not, that is easier said than done these days. Fantastic.

Starter #2: Roast Bone Marrow, Hereford Snails, Garlic and Parsley

I must admit I was a little bit disappointed by this starter. After hearing all the great things of roasted bone marrow from restaurants such as St John I was really expecting the wow factor to just knock me out senseless…. but it just didn’t. My first memory of eating this kind of thing was as a child when my mum would serve pork chops (oyster sauce style of course!), and I remembered that me and dad really enjoyed eating that white stuff sitting in the middle of the vertebrae… the spinal cord (!). Sounds rather gross but let me tell you all that the spinal cord (as well as much of the brain for that matter) has a large proportion of fat in it for nerve conduction purposes. I guess that’s why that part of the chop was so juicy and flavoursome.

Arggh… sorry I digress again. Yes… the bone marrow came in a pair sitting on a hot plate with a piece of toasted bread between and surrounded with snails cooked in a buttery garlic sauce. The snails were very flavoursome and eaten with the bread proved a very hearty starter. The bone marrow just didn’t cut it for me… perhaps because I expected too much. There’s a little metal scoop that you use to scoop the contents of the bone pieces out and it’s a lot of hard work to get a smidge of bone marrow. It was nice, just painfully underwhelming….

Mains #1: Roast and Braised Pheasant, Sprout Tops, Chestnuts and Bacon

The spout tops gave this dish a very nice combination of colour. The pheasant was cooked in 2 ways; Roasted Breast and Braised Leg, and served with the classic game combination of mushrooms, bacon, chestnuts and some ?savoy cabbage. The breast was cooked to perfection and still retained plenty of moisture (this would otherwise have been a disaster as you can read from my Hereford Road review). The leg was also delicious after long careful cooking making the meat tender and succulent. Highly accomplished cooking. The Mrs enjoyed it very much. Interestingly she was the one who chose the partridge at Hereford Road a few weeks back as well as the pheasant tonight. They were miles apart in quality.

Mains #2: Slow Cooked Ox-Cheek, Stewed Tomatoes And Olives

My dish…. I love ox cheek when it has been cooked slowly and tenderised. The chef here has played safe and stuck with a traditional tomato based sauce served with pasta and olives. The cheek was beautifully tender and the sauce powerful. I couldn’t really taste the olives but I didn’t care as these flavour combinations along with the pasta almost produced a perfect dish. My only gripe was perhaps a little too much seasoning in the sauce, but I would happily eat this over and over again.

Side Dish: Fried Potatoes

The Boss always loves chips and starchy things like that and so we needed to order potatoes. These were fried with parsley. Nice crispy edges with soft potato inside. Well seasoned and essentially… delicious.

We ran out of time at this point and so had to forfeit dessert in order to catch the train back 😦

The total bill came to £71 including service charge and drinks. Ok so not the cheapest for only 2 courses each, but as I said before… I will always return to this place knowing that I will leave a happy customer because this establishment in my mind oozes consistent great british cooking. I rest my case…


Magdalen Restaurant
152 Tooley Street,

Tel: 020 7403 1342

Opening Hours:
Lunch: Monday – Friday : 12noon to 2.30pm
Dinner: Monday – Saturday : 6.30pm to 10.30pm


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